Full of Skiddies
For those who are unaware of who Skid Row are, let me give you a potted history. The New Jersey band was formed in 1986 by former Bon Jovi guitarist Dave 'Snake' Sabo and bassist Rachel Bolan. In 1989, with a little help from Mr Jovi, the band released their debut album selling over five million copies in the process. Two years later their follow up, 'Slave to the Grind' was the first heavy metal band to debut at number one on Billboard's album chart, it too sold by the truck load. The following years saw relationships strained most notably with supreme singer Sebastian Bach. It took four years for the band to record another offering, but by that time the music scene had moved on leaving all the glam/big hair metal bands in its wake. The world had gone grunge and as good as 'Subhuman Race' was, the musical world just wasn't interested anymore. The band faded away but was resurrected by Rachel and Dave in 1999. In 2003 the band released their fourth album 'Thickskin' and continued touring until we reach today and their new release 'Revolutions Per Minute.' Having been a somewhat Sunday fan of Skid Row in their day, and having 'Thickskin' pass me by, I was wondering if Skid Row still had a song writing prowess, a fire in their belly and most importantly, a respectable replacement to arguably one of the greatest rock front men of all time?
I could just reference the rest of this review to the L.A Guns album I reviewed a couple of weeks ago because there are many similarities between the two histories, in particular their fall from grace and attempts to scramble back up the musical ladder. Thankfully, unlike L.A Guns, there's only one version of the band doing the rounds, but without Sebastian Bach the band are just going through the motions, something that immediately springs to mind after a few revolutions of 'Revolutions Per Minute.' New vocalist Johnny Solinger performs admirably, but his voice just doesn't have the same power or charisma as Bach's, however, he isn't really given the songs to stretch himself and to prove just how good he is.
The album kicks off with the solid if unspectacular 'Disease.' Sadly this is the best cut on the album, the annoying thing is it takes the forty minutes playing time to find this out. 'Another Dick in the System' is another respectable tune, it has some attitude but has only one iota of the youthful brashness they used to ooze. Skid Row naturally progressed to a heavier sound in their earlier albums to a point where it crossed over to thrash. But the band have regressed their sound to a more rock n roll pre-grunge state, and as a consequence the music has very little impact. The songs that are supposed to spit attitude such as 'White Trash' and 'Shut Up Baby, I Love You' just fall flat. Perhaps it's the lifeless production, but I think deep down it's the poor song-writing that fails this album so badly. Hearing a crock of 40-year-old rock n roll has beens writing and singing such lines as, "I wanna be white trash and sit around on my fat ass" is extremely cringe-worthy. I suspect even Seb Bach would have trouble making this line sound convincing.
"When God Can Wait' and 'You Lie' must be some sort of joke. Their hillbilly honky tonk influences are just an insult to the band's legacy, and not worth the disc they're printed on. 'You Lie' in particular lasted a minute before the words, "Oh for fucks sake" were muttered from my voice box and the finger reached for the skip track button (The biggest insult being that the bonus track is another version of this dreadful song). The rest of this album is aeons away from great anthems such as 'Youth Gone Wild', 'Slave to the Grind' and '18 and Life'. 'Revolutions Per Minute' is an album by a band who have no direction, releasing albums in an attempt to stay relevant and keep their name alive, whilst their back catalogue brings in the punters. Skid Row however, are in a great position, they have the songs in the locker and a well known name, it's a pity they chose to sully it with this pile of trash. There are many directions the band could have taken their music. Moving away from the thrashier sound of the early 90s was a good idea, but they could have gone more 'Black Sabbath,' introducing bigger riffs and pounding beats into their music. But after having suffered this latest nonsense knowing they have 20 years of music biz experience, I don't think they are capable of it. What a shame.